Posts Tagged ‘ confident kids ’

Jozy Altidore: “We need our kids to believe in themselves and believe in what they can do.”

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

The FIFA World Cup kicks off June 12 (just around the corner)! Parents caught up with U.S. soccer team striker Jozy Altidore to get his insight on the upcoming tournament and starting kids young in athletics. At the age of 24, Jozy has some pretty mature insight into the values that make a successful, kind kid—on the field and off.

P: How you were drawn to the sport at such a young age and what makes soccer a great sport for kids?

JA: My family, from their background, it’s kind of a natural thing. They’re from Haiti and in Haiti soccer is basically number one. My dad is of Haitian descent and he got me into soccer since I was 3. I’ve been playing ever since then and I just fell in love with the game.

P: What makes soccer special for young kids?

JA: I think any sport [is great] for kids because it keeps them off the street. I know that’s important. That’s one of the reasons why my family put me in, to make sure I was doing something that required discipline. I think soccer is great because it’s a team game, being able to function in a group. It’s kind of a brotherhood; you’re a group of guys and you grow together as people and as players. You travel together; you play; you go through a lot. It’s a great thing for young boys and young girls to get into. Most importantly it’s fun!

P: You turned pro at age 16. What was it like to still be a kid navigating a world of professional athletes?

JA: It was next to impossible. I struggled with it at first, obviously. There’s so much to do and you’ve got such little time and adjusting to playing with grown men and not children, that was hard as well. Just getting used to what comes with being a professional, the criticisms, fans and all that. [You have to] quit worrying about if everyone is going to like what you do or like you as a player and just try to have a positive outlook on everything and work hard. That was the biggest challenge I think for me.

P: What was your most memorable moment from the last World Cup?

JA: Just walking out of the tunnel that first game because I’ll never forget it. I cried a little bit. It was just so surreal to me. It was just amazing. I don’t think I’m going to be able to replicate it. It was so special to me.

P: What are you most excited for about the upcoming World Cup now that you’ve already been? Will you still have that adrenaline walking out of the tunnel?

JA: Most definitely. Hopefully I arrive at the World Cup in a more mature way and not that youth where I’m just excited and I want to run everywhere and bounce off the walls, you know? Hopefully, I arrive there with more of an understanding of what’s new for me and how I can help the team to the best of my abilities. Just try to impact the tournament in the best way I can for my teammates. I’m looking forward to that.

P: Is there any one match that you’re most looking forward to?

JA: The first match is special for a lot of reasons. It’s the first game of a childhood dream. You can’t replicate the feelings that you’re going to feel on that day. You can try. You can play a lot of big games against big opponents, but that feeling as a player that I’ll have walking out of the tunnel against Ghana will be immeasurable. I’m excited for that. I’m excited to be part of it and I’m excited for the guys to have that experience, as well.

P: You started the Jozy Altidore Foundation back in 2011. What inspired you to do this?

JA: Well in 2010 I went to the place in Haiti with the earthquake. I was shaken up because it hit close to home for me being that my family is from Haiti. I just felt helpless like I couldn’t do anything. It was in that moment where I felt like I should try and do something. My family helped me figure out how to do that by getting a foundation. I could have donated something, which I did, but I thought having a foundation would be a more hands-on approach. I looked into it and I started it and I haven’t looked back. It enables me to help in many different ways, not only Haiti but in many different areas.

P: Your foundation’s mission statement says that you specifically want to serve underprivileged children. What is it about young kids that you relate to or feel for? What draws you to help that population?

JA: I’ve always been a big fan of the youth. I guess when you go everything so young that kind of just happens. I want to help the youth and see them do well.

P: You’ve said that no one is ever too young to make a difference. How do you hope to encourage young people to volunteer and raise money?

JA: I think it’s an easy thing. Kids are very naïve in a sense where they just want what they want. So if they want to help, they’re going to help. I think that will naturally just happen. I think kids just have a good heart and are genuine about their feelings. I figure that the best way to teach [generosity] is to teach them young because that’s the time when our hearts are the purest and you know they’ll get the most out of it.

P: Aside from this spirit of volunteerism, what other values did your parents impart to you that you have carried on and have made you so successful?

JA: My dad always says to be modest. To this day he always says it’s better to be modest, it’s always better to listen and sometimes not speak. He said it to me yesterday, actually. He’s always saying that to me. I think a lot of kids and a lot of people sometimes lose sight of that. I think it’s something that might be simple, but I think we oftentimes don’t do it.

P: Do you have any message for young kids who are dreaming about careers in athletics?

JA: To dream big and big and bigger! I think that’s important for kids. You can’t really tell anybody that “You can’t do” something. I think they have to believe they can. With that and with being persistent, they’ll make it whether it’s being a big time athlete or something else. I think we need our kids to believe in themselves and believe in what they can do.

P: Father’s Day is coming up. Do you have any plans? Anything special you do on that day even if you’re not with your dad?

JA: In my family—I don’t think I’m dissing anybody else—but I try to make them feel that they’re special every day whether it’s how I call to speak to them or give my mom a call when she’s least expecting it because for me my parents have been instrumental for me from day one. [Father's Day] will be a nice day to express that again, but I try to do that every day because I’m so thankful. I’m so grateful. I don’t know where I’d be without them.

Soccer not for you? Use this video to teach your son or daughter to throw a perfect pitch!

How to Pitch Like a Big Leaguer
How to Pitch Like a Big Leaguer
How to Pitch Like a Big Leaguer

For more suggestions of fun activities with your kids, download our Activity Finder app!

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The Road to Rio With Caitlin Leverenz

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Our journey to Brazil continues! This week: Olympic bronze medalist Caitlin Leverenz and her mom Jeannine. The mother-daughter pair sat down with Parents at a Winter Olympic viewing party sponsored by Swim Today to talk about the personal rewards of swimming (it’s not all about medals), the importance of family, and why she’s focusing on the now.

P: What makes swimming such a great sport for kids and adults?

CL: I just learned so many things from it. I’ve had so much fun. I had to learn from a young age time management, how to get my homework done. I laugh because it was a threat if my mom wouldn’t let me go to practice. I had to get my homework done and learn how to manage other things in my life so I could still make it to practice because that was really what I wanted to do at night. It’s just been such a great platform for allowing me to talk about who I am and what I want to do in life and really learn about myself. In so many ways the personal growth is the bigger success than any medal I’ve won.

JL: I remember when she was in third grade she said she wanted to quit school and just swim and I told her she couldn’t be a dumb swimmer she had to be a smart swimmer. But, through most of grade school she was a very quiet little girl. I remember taking her to her first day at kindergarten and she was hiding in my skirts. The confidence as a person that she has built through her gifts of swimming has just been incredible. This little shy girl who hid behind me is now up on the world stage.

P: Tell me, Mom, what does it take to raise an Olympian?

JL: Oh gosh. Well you have to know that when she was 8 and doing really well just in her local level, my dad looked at me and said “Maybe she’ll go to the Olympics someday.” And I looked at him and I said, “I hope not.” And he said “Why?!” And I said, “Because you have to give up your entire life for it.” Little did I know what our road was going to be at that point. I think she’s given up a lot of her life but I think the gifts she has received through swimming and that our family has received has been immeasurable. It’s been worth every bit of it.

P: What does it mean to you to have such support from your mom and your family?

CL: It’s been tremendous. You know,during the Winter Olympics, when Noelle Pikus-Pace won her medal in skeleton she said: “We won a medal.” I just love that. When I won a bronze medal, it was a “We won the bronze medal.” I got to see [my family] right after I finished my race and have this we did this, we finished and we just did something amazing moment. There were so many things that parents and a family have to sacrifice. I don’t think any Olympian would be where they are without that good foundation of a family and support behind them.

P: What is your advice to moms of aspiring athletes at any level, but especially at this high level?

JL: Make sure they’re having fun and let it be their sport. It’s not your sport. So, if they’re not having fun figure out why and move them to a different sport if that’s what it takes. Just love them no matter how they do. Any time Caitlin got out of the water I’d say “Great swim!” and I’d give her a hug and she’d go “Not really, Mom.” And I’d go, “It was to me.”

CL: Which was huge, being an athlete. There are points where I didn’t want to keep swimming and my parents would say “We’re going to love you whether you swim or not.” My motivation to swim and do well was never because of pressure from my parents, it was always their support that allowed me to do well.

P: Gearing up for Rio, what are you most excited for?

CL: Well, the Winter Olympics got me excited just to race again. I love watching Team USA. Being a part of that is just so special. There’s just so much that builds up and leads up to the Olympics, that’s just the culminating point. The time in between from now until Rio is such an important time in terms of enjoyment and growth and learning that you know I try not to look too much ahead to Rio and just enjoy what I’m doing right now.

Will your kid be the next member of Team USA? Take our child career quiz and find out what she could grow up to be!

Get your little athlete to eat healthy with our advice in the video player below:

How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids
How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids
How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids

Photographs (from top down): Caitlin Leverenz/Arena; Caitlin and her mom, Jeannine

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